This was Norma Klein's last book, and I vividly remember when I read this book, getting to that last page and seeing on the author bio that she had died upset me very much. I believe it wasn't 100% finished (the writing was obviously done but not the production process) as I caught 2 copyediting inconsistencies that I've never seen in other of her books.
This book I identified with more than all her others. It was the first one where the main female character had girlfriends. Not just one (or sometimes none) like in the other books. Also this book was actually set NOW (1990), when I was in high school, not like previous books from the early 80s or the 70s. It felt very personal to me, very much like Ms. Klein was a friend of mine and knew what me and my friends were thinking. I could totally understand being in a situation like Isabel's, with the best friend you secretly love but can't tell, and then getting involved with another boy who you don't love, but who at first you half-hope you do end up loving as that would eliminate the first problem. And in a way it was a win-win for Isabel because even if she didn't even fall for Gregory, she hopefully could make Stuart jealous, and also distract herself while his affair with Ketti was going on. I completely understood her motivations and her feelings. I loved it.
A funny side note: while I was reading this, I was in AP English and studying for the SATs. In this book I did something I never did before or since: I kept a list of words I didn't know in the back of the book. In my defense, these were words where I got the jist of them in context, I was more worried if I would be able to define them in one of those SAT synonym questions. Here's the list: connubial, profligately, discommode, dalliance, funereal, serendipitous, virulent, troth, unobtrusively, alacrity, erogenous, prurient, pernicious, reductive, deign, petulant, pretentiousness, unemphatic, dyspeptically, voluble, apputenances, sestinas. Funny how many of them are related to sex. Hmmm.... Maybe I should have read more romance novels in high school.